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The Problem With HFC’s

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As you know, we like to have fun here at The Polar Bear Habitat, but sometimes we need to get serious. July 15th was Arctic Sea Ice day and we wanted to do something to help bring it some attention. As we know the ozone is being depleted and the planet is warming which is causing the sea ice to melt faster each year limiting the time and space that Polar Bears have too hunt for their food.

One of the main causes of global warming is something not many people expect, refrigerants. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HFC’s are a very powerful greenhouse gas. HFC’s are a bi-product of aerosol propellants, inhalers, and most dangerously, Freon. This means that every time we use AC in our homes and cars, every fridge we have plugged in, and every storage freezer we keep running in the basement is producing HFC’s. HFC’s are commonly referred to as a ‘super-greenhouse gasses’ as they are 1000X more effective at trapping in heat than regular carbon dioxide. Although they don’t deplete the Ozone layer they do trap heat inside of it which is effectively warming our planet.

As a planet, we are approaching a point of no return when it comes to climate change. If the planets temperature rises a small 3.6 degrees we will cause irreversible global warming effects. While some say 3.6 degrees is impossible to stay within and that it is too small of a window, scientists argue that the window is already much too big and should be cut in half. Politicians argue that the goal should be more reasonable like 7.2 degrees. If the planet were to warm but this much than we will spiral toward our own destruction, causing the ice sheets to melt and add a total of 33 feet of water to our oceans. This would put 14 million Americans under water alone, not to mention all the other countries on coastal land that would be effected. Moreover, the Polar Bears that we love so dearly use the yearly sea ice to hunt for their main food source, seal. Without the ice, the bears aren’t able to access their food source and they go hungry. A mother bear with cubs will give the cubs all the food they are able to find and she will inevitably die leaving the cub to fend for itself most likely resulting in the death of the cub as well.

The world’s leaders are acting and came together to form the Kigali deal which is limiting the use of refrigerants in both developed and third world countries. This is a major step in the right direction to get us on track to saving our planet from ourselves. Some countries are going above and beyond and putting the new standards in place immediately instead of over time. Bigger developed countries are the ones who need to be acting like this as they are the largest producers of HFC’s.

There are ways you can help too! Keeping your AC set at a higher temperature will keep it from running all day long and help to reduce your personal contribution. Many foods like tomatoes and bread don’t need to be refrigerated at all. If you can reduce the amount of food you refrigerate you would be able to cut down the number of fridges you have running or you could even reduce the size of your one fridge.  We all know how hot a car can get on a nice summer day and how relieving the air conditioning can be, but the more you use it the more you will need it in the future! You can act against this by driving with your windows down and utilizing the cool breeze provided. All the options mentioned above and many more you can come up with yourself wont only help save our planet, but they will also help save your wallet.

Written by: Jeremy Kelso

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